We advise our fiduciary clients they can get sued for failing to diversify their investment portfolios. Why? Because it’s inherently risky to put all your eggs in one basket. This is good advice for trusts and estates lawyers too: diversify your practice. One way to do that is to take the trust-law expertise you develop in your traditional estate planning practice, and offer it as a solution for a new set of clients who might not be thinking about as trusts as a planning tool.

Trusts are incredibly flexible arrangements that can be individually tailored to solve all sorts of complex problems. As trusts and estates lawyers, part of our challenge is simply being aware of what the possibilities are. That’s why you’ll want to read Oddball Trusts and the Lawyers Who Love Them or Trusts for Politicians and other Animals, by Seattle, Washington trusts-and-estates lawyer Wendy S. Goffe. Ms. Goffe does a great job of introducing us to dozens of lesser-known trusts that have evolved over the years in a variety of contexts, many having little to do with traditional estate planning. Good stuff, and well worth your time.

Here’s my annotated list of some of the trusts Ms. Goffe covers in her article. 

  1. Health and Education Exclusion Trusts
  2. Delaware incomplete gift non-grantor (DING) trusts
  3. Rabbi Trusts
  4. Oral Trusts
  5. Secret Trusts
  6. Alimony and Maintenance Trusts
  7. Business Trusts
  8. Investment Trusts
  9. Environmental Remediation Trusts [example]
  10. Land Trusts
  11. Liquidating Trusts
  12. Voting Trusts
  13. Purpose Trusts
  14. Funeral and Cemetery Trusts
  15. Gun Trusts [blog]
  16. Pet Trusts [blog]
  17. Constructive Trusts
  18. Blind Trusts
  19. Coogan Trusts
  20. Totten Trusts
  21. Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) [FL Bar IOLTA rules]
  22. Interest on Real Estate Trust Account (IRETA)

And here’s an excerpt from Ms. Goffe’s introduction to Oddball Trusts and the Lawyers Who Love Them or Trusts for Politicians and other Animals:

This article discusses trusts that are, for want of a better expression, off the beaten path of usual trusts encountered in estate planning. Some, such as constructive trusts, are not even trusts at all. This article addresses these trusts for three reasons: First, some of these little-known trusts fill an estate planning need in a way that no other arrangement could. Second, the article explains characteristics of sham trusts and how to avoid these kinds of “trusts.” Finally, because many of our clients (and, truth be told, some of our non-estate planning colleagues) assume that if property is in trust or an entity has trust in its name, it must relate to estate planning. This article dis- cusses some of the more likely trusts that practitioners may encounter. A much broader world of trusts exists beyond the scope of this article, including revocable trusts, various types of irrevocable trusts such as Crummey trusts, dynasty trusts, asset protection trusts, marital trusts, special needs trusts, qualified subchapter S trusts, electing small business trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, charitable lead and charitable remainder trusts, and qualified terminable interest property trusts, to name just a few.